YESHUA AND THE PASSOVER

Passover is designed to remember and celebrate how God brought His people out of slavery in Egypt. This deliverance is just the beginning of God’s redemptive plan that culminates in Yeshua. The Passover foreshadows Yeshua, and there are specific elements in the Passover Seder that resemble Him. Yeshua Himself also celebrated the Passover, and ascribed a new meaning to its elements.

The Passover Lamb

In Exodus 12, God commands the Israelites to sacrifice an unblemished lamb and spread its blood on their doorposts. Every household that obeyed this command saved their firstborns from death. The lamb’s death allowed the firstborns to live.

Yeshua as the Passover Lamb

In John 1:29, Yeshua is called the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,” and in 1 Corinthians 5:7, He is called “Christ, our Passover Lamb.” Yeshua is the perfectly qualified, sacrificial lamb, whose death and resurrection saves those who believe in Him from sin and death. Just as the Passover lamb was sacrificed in place of the Israelites’ firstborns, so Yeshua took our sin upon Himself, saving us from eternal death. And just as the Israelites were freed from slavery, Yeshua frees us from the bondage of our sin, giving us unmerited eternal life.

The sacrificial Passover lamb points to Yeshua. He is the ultimate Passover Lamb who suffered death once for the sins of the world. He has reconciled humanity with God, and there is no further need for animal sacrifices.

Does the Afikoman Represent Yeshua?

At the Passover Seder, there are three symbolic pieces of unleavened bread, called matzah. During the Seder, the middle matzah is taken out and broken in half. The larger half, called the afikoman, is then wrapped in linen and hidden until the children are sent out to find it.

There are several traditions for why there are three pieces of matzah; for example, they could represent the three patriarchs, or the three classes of Israelites. However, an alternate option is that the afikoman ceremony was established by the Jewish Christian community in the first centuries as a parallel to Yeshua, and later adopted by all Jews as the Passover Seder evolved. Evidence in support of this is that the word “aphikomenos” in Greek means “the one who has arrived”—which would describe Yeshua—as well as the striking similarities between what happened to Yeshua and what is done with the afikoman. Yeshua was crucified, buried, and resurrected, just as the afikoman is broken, hidden, and later brought back.

It is unknown for certain if this is the origin on the afikoman ceremony, but nevertheless, the parallels between Yeshua and the afikoman are remarkable.

Yeshua Celebrating the Passover

In Luke 22:15, Yeshua says, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer,” and indeed He does just that. On the eve before His crucifixion, Yeshua celebrates the Passover with His disciples. He knows that He is the ultimate Passover Lamb, and He asks the disciples to recall this truth by eating broken matzah and drinking wine, which symbolize His sacrificed body and shed blood—a practice known today as the Lord’s Supper, or Communion.

Let’s remember Yeshua as we celebrate the Passover.